'I love him and I almost lost him': Montreal couple ties the knot in hospital after lifesaving surgery
Five weeks ago, Gerry Champagne was on the brink of death.
His heart was failing and his girlfriend Michelle Cormier was getting ready to say goodbye.
But a groundbreaking medical procedure — the first of its kind in Canada — helped buy Champagne the time he needs until he can get a heart transplant.
The couple was so relieved, they decided to get married in the hospital. The unlikely ceremony took place Saturday in the company of friends, family and the surgeon who saved Champagne's life.
"I don't want to lose any minutes because I love him, and I almost lost him," said Cormier. "And that's when I realized — every moment counts."
Champagne was all smiles as he prepared for the ceremony held at the Royal Victoria Hospital, part of the McGill University Health Centre network.
"It's a beautiful day," he said. "Just goes to show you, sometimes dreams do come true. I never thought it would happen."
Dr. Renzo Cecere, chief of cardiac surgery at the MUHC, explained that when Champagne first arrived at the hospital he was exhibiting signs of heart failure.
Doctors were able to use a combination of devices that could be implanted without performing open heart surgery, a process Cecere described as "revolutionary."
The technology keeps Champagne's heart beating, while he waits for a new one on the transplant list.
"We like to feel that we're offering patients a new lease on life," said Cecere.
He told CBC that it's not every day a surgeon gets to attend his patient's wedding.
"We're always excited about patients who are showing emotions all of a sudden after implanting a mechanical heart that we take off the shelf," Cecere said.
"It makes you wonder, doesn't it, what comes with that piece of machinery? It's not just nuts and bolts."
The ceremony took place Saturday afternoon, and as far as anyone knew, it's a first in MUHC history.
Now that the couple is married, Champagne intends to focus on getting stronger and making every moment of his new life count.